No. 8 Wildcats Edge Cal, 78-76

March 10, 2001

AP Sports Writer

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Arizona capped its roller-coaster regular seasonwith another victory.

The No. 8 Wildcats held off California 78-76 Saturday night, sending theminto the NCAA tournament with a six-game winning streak.

Loren Woods had 22 points and nine rebounds, Michael Wright had 20 pointsand Gilbert Arenas added 18 for Arizona (23-7, 15-3 Pac-10), which upset No. 1Stanford on Thursday night.

'Probably the thing that makes me the happiest is the play we got fromLoren Woods today,' Arizona coach Lute Olson said. 'He was much moreaggressive and I felt like that was the missing link for us.'

Jason Gardner's 3-pointer with 59 seconds remaining gave Arizona a 77-74lead. Sean Lampley responded with two free throws for Cal, then RichardJefferson made the second of two free throws with 12 seconds left to give theWildcats a 78-76 lead.

Lampley missed a 12-foot turnaround jumper at the buzzer.

Lampley had 27 points for Cal (20-10, 11-7), which finished tied withSouthern California for fourth in the Pac-10 and hopes for an NCAA at-largeberth. The senior forward said coming so close to Arizona is a positive at thistime of the season.

'It will give us a boost if we make the tournament, whichever tournament wemake,' Lampley said. 'I'm just going to wait until tomorrow (to find out).'

The Wildcats were No. 1 in the preseason, but were just 5-3 in mid-Decemberand 8-5 after a home loss to Stanford in early January. That defeat came in theabsence of Olson, who missed five games surrounding the death of his wife,Bobbi, from ovarian cancer.

Arizona also struggled this season with the NCAA suspensions of Woods forsix games and Jefferson for one game.

Since Olson returned to the sidelines in mid-January, the Wildcats are 13-2.Their only losses during that span were at Oregon and an overtime defeat atUCLA.

'Tough games get you ready for tough contests down the line,' Olson said.

Then he referred to the tumultuous season as a whole.

'What doesn't break you makes you tougher.'

Arizona led 38-33 at halftime, then built its lead to 10 points as Woods hadseven points during a 13-8 run to open the second half.

But Cal responded with 10 straight points, tying the game at 51 on RyanForehan-Kelly's 3-pointer with 10 1/2 minutes left - his first points of the game.

Wright then took control, powering his way inside for a couple of baskets.Woods made two free throws and, after a Cal bucket, Wright scored again to giveArizona a 59-53 lead.

A short jumper by Woods gave the Wildcats a 64-57 lead with 6:25 remaining,but Lampley then scored seven straight points - including a three-point playwith 4:12 remaining - to tie the score at 64.

The teams traded 3-pointers, and Cal took a 72-71 lead with 2:09 left onShantay Legans' 3-pointer.

Brian Wethers hit two free throws with 1:50 remaining to give Cal a 74-72lead, but Woods scored on a layup with 1:34 left to tie the game again and setthe stage for Gardner's decisive 3-pointer.

Arenas had 13 points in the first half for the Wildcats. Lampley, thePac-10's leading scorer this season, had 10 at halftime for Cal.

Now on Pac-12 Network
3:30 PM PT

Airing on:

  • Pac-12 Network